Showcase Presents Blue Beetle Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Blue Beetle Vol. 1

First Published: January 2015

Contents: Blue Beetle #1 (June 1986) to #24 (May 1988); and Secret Origins #2 (May 1986)

Key Creator Credits: Len Wein, Paris Cullins, Ross Andru, Don Heck, Gil Kane, and others

Key First Appearances: Melody Case, Carapax, Jeremiah Duncan, Lt. Max Fisher, Angela Revere, Dr. Murray Takamoto, Catalyst, Overthrow

Overview: Stop me if you read this story before. Wealthy playboy oversees a large scientific company, but has a hidden life, where he dresses up in a costume, flies around in a vehicle that matches his motif and stops super-villains and other forms of crime. You’re thinking of Blue Beetle, right? Yes, one of the stars of the Charlton Comics’ Action Hero line jumps into the pages of DC Comics. Following his successful appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Blue Beetle becomes the first Charlton hero to get his own monthly title.

So let’s meet Ted Kord. He’s rebuilt KORD (Kord Omniversal Research & Development), Inc. after his father left it in ruins. He’s rich, good-looking, and mostly single — he’s been dating his girl Friday, Melody Case. Ted also has a secret identity – the Blue Beetle. With a hidden base located under the company headquarters in Chicago, Blue Beetle battles a mix of foes from the Charlton days (Madmen) as well as long-time DC foes (Doctor Alchemy, Chronos), and crosses paths with many DC heroes, such as the Teen Titans, the Justice League, and the Question.

We also learn that Ted Kord is not the first person to wear the mantle of the Blue Beetle. The original Blue Beetle was Dan Garrett, a university professor and archaeologist. Well before Professor Henry Jones, Garrett was exploring the Egyptian dig of Kha-Ef-Re where he discovers a mystical blue scarab. The token grants Garrett super-strength, turning him into the first Blue Beetle. Dan Garrett had many adventures, before finally meeting his fate on mysterious Pago Island. While on his death bed, he got Kord, a former student of his, to promise to carry on his secret calling. Unable to use the blue scarab, Kord develops gadgets, weapons, and a flying ship (“the Bug”) to allow him to carry on the mantle of the Blue Beetle.

As the story develops, Ted Kord finds himself spending more and more time as the Blue Beetle, and less time managing the work of KORD, Inc. This leads to Case reaching out to Ted’s missing father, Thomas Kord, to return and take over the reigns of the company, just as it all comes crashing down (literally and figuratively). The series ends with Ted Kord walking off into the sunset, content with becoming Blue Beetle full-time and leaving the corporate life behind.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Much like the situation I found myself in when reading Showcase Presents Booster Gold, I was prepared to overlook this collection, having loosely followed the Blue Beetle run 28 years ago. With the re-read of this title, I’m a little more impressed with the stories. Len Wein did a noble job in integrating Blue Beetle and his cast into the DC Universe, with nods to his Charlton roots. But as with Booster Gold, it’s not the solo book that fans came to know these title characters – it’s the Justice League of the late 1980s that gave us the defining view of Blue Beetle, which right or wrong, is that of comedy relief. I find myself reconsidering my position on this. I really want Blue Beetle to be a more serious hero, along the lines (but not as dark) as Batman. But as I read this title, I found myself wishing that DC would publish a Showcase Presents Justice League Vol. 1 sometime soon.

Meet the Action Heroes: From 1946 to 1986, Charlton Comics published comics in a variety of genres, from war to romance to licensed books to super-heroes. In fact, in the mid-1960s, then Charlton editor Dick Giordano developed a line of characters dubbed the “Action Hero”, which included Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, the Question, the Peacemaker, the Judomaster, and Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt. These characters had varying degrees of success, but most of the titles were canceled by the end of that decade. Jump ahead to 1983, and Charlton was struggling to survive. Then DC Managing Editor Dick Giordano worked out a deal to buy the rights for the Action Heroes from Charlton. DC incorporated these characters into the Crisis on Infinite Earths mega-event, and then put Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and the Question into their own monthly books. In addition, Alan Moore used archetypes of these characters when he created Watchmen with Dave Gibbons. 

Footnotes: In terms of the reading order, jump to the back of the book and read Secret Origins #2 first. Look at the publishing dates – the Secret Origins issue came out the month BEFORE Blue Beetle #1. In addition, the early issues of Blue Beetle make reference to his origin story which is detailed in the Secret Origins issue.

If you like this volume, try: reading the Legends mini-series from 1986 by Len Wein, John Ostrander, and John Byrne. Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Darkseid plots to undermine humanity, sending Glorious Godfrey to Earth to incite riots and turn people against super-heroes. Blue Beetle had a featured role in this series, and the odd collection of heroes at the end of the series come together to become the new Justice League. DC also had other titles spinning out of the events of Legends, including Suicide Squad, The Flash, and a Shazam mini-series. Legends has only been collected one time in a trade paperback, back in 1993, so you might have better luck finding the original issues in a back-issue bin.

Showcase Presents The Atom Vol. 2

Showcase Presents The Atom Vol. 2

First Published: August 2008

Contents: The Atom #18 (April-May 1965) to #38 (August-September 1968)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Gil Kane, and Murphy Anderson

Key First Appearances: Bug-Eyed Bandit

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The Atom Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 2

Overview: The Mighty Mite of Ivy Town returns in the second volume of Showcase Presents The Atom. Scientist Ray Palmer discovered a way to miniaturize himself using a white dwarf star and ultra-violet rays. Donning a costume, Ray Palmer adopts the identity of the Atom, who can shrink and enlarge himself, as well as adjusting his weight for emphasis when needed. In addition to fighting the various costumed foes that threaten Ivy Town, the Atom also takes a dive into the time pool, when he is able to travel to events in the past.

The stories follow the same formula from the previous volume, where we either get one full-length story or two shorter stories per issue. The highlights of this volume is Ray Palmer meeting his Golden Age counterpart in Al Pratt, the Earth-2 Atom. The two Atoms actually had their first meetings in the first and second meetings of the Justice League and the Justice Society. But this volume features two issues, #29 and #36, that brings the two pint-size heroes together.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: As we move further and further away from the Golden Age and Silver Age of comics, we start to overlook some of the great people that worked on those books. Case in point, I would like to speak about editor Julie Schwartz. He came of age in the 1930s as a science fiction editor, helping writers to place stories in magazines. In 1944, he joined All-American Comics (one of the companies that would become DC Comics) as an editor. During his tenure, he brought in numerous science fiction authors to write comics. Schwartz oversaw the “Silver Age” debut of new versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Atom. In the mid-1960s, he took over the editor reigns for the Batman books, overseeing that revitalization of that franchise. In the early 1970s, he did that again with the Superman family of books. What makes the Schwartz books stand out, particularly on titles like The Flash or The Atom, is that the stories were based in science, not just in fiction. The characters were scientists in their civilian lives. I know as a kid, I learned actual knowledge reading some of these comics. So yes, all Julie Schwartz edited books should be showcased, and The Atom is a great place to start!

Footnotes: The Atom #31 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 2.

The Atom #38 was the final issue with Ray Palmer as the solo feature of the title. Beginning with issue #39, the title was renamed The Atom and Hawkman, as Hawkman’s title had just been canceled. The Atom and Hawkman ran for seven issues before it was canceled as well. Parts of those seven issues can be found in Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 2. Excuse me for a moment while I get very angry with DC Comics. See, for The Atom and Hawkman #40, #41, #43, and #44, the two title characters have separate stories. However, Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 2 only reprints the Hawkman stories from those issues. That means that the Atom stories from issues #40, #41, #43, and #44 have not been reprinted! These were 10-12 page stories, so that would have meant 40-50 to include those four Atom stories, either in the Hawkman Showcase or this Atom Showcase.

If you like this volume, try: the All-New Atom series that debuted in 2006 from Gail Simone and John Byrne. In this series, we meet Ryan Choi, an Asian-American protege of Ray Palmer. Choi has recently moved to Ivy Town in hopes of taking Ray Palmer’s position at the university. Discovering some of Palmer’s notes, Choi tracks down one of the old size-changing belts used by the Atom. Developing a new costume, Choi takes on the name of the Atom, to further fill the void of Ray Palmer’s absence from Ivy Town. This series ran for 25 issues, and almost all of the series has been collected into four trade paperbacks. Choi was a fresh character that truly paid homage to the Atom of the 1960s, where the science was just as important as the fiction. Sadly, Choi was not brought into the “New 52” universe, so tracking down this series is your best bet to discover the character.

Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 1

Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 1

First Published: May 2008

Contents: Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (December 1967) and #13 (March 1968); Captain Marvel #1 (May 1968) to #21 (August 1970); and the Captain Marvin story from Not Brand Echh #9 (March 1981)

Key Creator Credits: Stan Lee, Gene Colan, Roy Thomas, Arnold Drake, Don Heck, Gil Kane, Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers, and others

Key First Appearances: Mar-Vell/Captain Marvel, Una, Yon-Rogg, Carol Danvers, Mordecai Boggs

Story Continues In: Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 2

Overview: Unbeknownst to most of the people of Earth, alien races have been keeping an eye on our home planet. One of those races, the Kree, has parked a spaceship in orbit to do a further observation of the Earthlings. Captain Mar-Vell is sent to the surface for further investigation, finding himself near a military base in Florida. Mar-Vell’s commander, Col. Yon-Rogg, despises his assignment and wants nothing more than to blast our planet to bits and return to the Kree home world. Finding himself at odds with his commander, Mar-Vell breaks ranks with the Kree and vows to protect the Earth as Captain Marvel!

Captain Marvel finds that the Kree are not happy with his decision, as he is forced to face off against Yon-Rogg and Ronan the Accuser. And given that the Kree are the mortal enemies of the Skrulls, of course, the Super-Skrull has to cross paths with Captain Marvel.

In issue #17, Roy Thomas returned to script the book and brought along with Gil Kane for the art chores. Captain Marvel was given his more familiar red and blue costume, and the story starting progressing in new directions. Rick Jones, the official sidekick of the Marvel Universe, joins up with Captain Marvel, and the two find themselves bonded via the Nega-Bands. Because of that, when one is on Earth, the other is transported to the Negative Zone. (And if you know your Marvel history, if Rick Jones is around than the Hulk will soon follow!)

One of the supporting characters created for this series was Carol Danvers, a security officer at the military base during the origin issues of our hero. However, in issue #18 (November 1969), Carol is caught up in an explosion with Captain Marvel. After she has fully recovered, she later finds out that her DNA has been fused with Kree DNA, and it has given her many of the same powers as Captain Marvel. Carol’s story will continue in the pages of her own comic, which have been reviewed in Essential Ms. Marvel Vol. 1.

What makes this Essential?: OK, full disclosure and SPOILER warning time. I never really got into the Captain Marvel character. Want to know why? Because the first time I ever saw the character was in Marvel Graphic Novel #1: The Death of Captain Marvel. He was killed off the first time I read him! And it was a shocking move by Marvel, having a heroic character die not in battle but in a bed from cancer. So given the dramatic finale to his career, I had not desire to go back and read his adventures. In all fairness, the early 1980s still was part of the era where characters that were deceased stayed deceased. Of course, Marvel would reuse the name Captain Marvel (to protect the trademark) with later characters. But in today’s era, sometimes the best characters to use are the dead ones, and a good writer finds a way to resurrect the dead.

So I read this volume only knowing the character’s end. This is a mixed introduction to Captain Marvel. I fully believe this is a book that got much better as the story progressed, so I am looking forward to reading Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 2 sometime soon. (You can read into that if the book got better as the story progressed, then the early issues must have been a rough ride to get through.) The Gil Kane issues in the end of the book were my favorites, as the artist finds a way to make Captain Marvel feel more alive. (I’m still a big fan of Gene Colan, but these issues just didn’t do it for me. Thankfully I have plenty of Colan Daredevil and Dracula issues to enjoy!) Bottom line – I think this is worth reading, but I don’t know that this is worth owning.

Footnotes: Captain Marvel #20 and #21 are also reprinted in Essential Hulk Vol. 3.

Read my review of Showcase Presents SHAZAM! Vol. 1 to learn about the name battle between Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel.

If you like this volume, try: the Captain Marvel series from 2000 by Peter David and ChrisCross. This is a new Captain Marvel, Genis-Vell, who is the gentically-engineered son of the late Mar-Vell. Introduced in a 1996 Captain Marvel mini-series, the character went by the code name of Legacy. He rose in popularity when he was included in Avengers Forever maxi-series, as a future Avenger plucked from time to fight in the Destiny War. At the climax of that story, Captain Marvel finds that he must use the Nega-Band connection to save Rick Jones. Following that series, Genis-Vell moved into his own monthly book, still bonded to his father’s former side-kick. The series ran for 35 issues, before being rebooted in a Marvel promotion in 2002. The reboot, still written by Peter David, ran for another 25 issues. David is one of the best comic book writers, so any of these issues are a treat. Sadly, this is not a series that has been reprinted beyond one trade paperback, so you may need to dive into some back-issue bins to track this one down.

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 3

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 3

First Published: June 2008

Contents: Batman #189 (February 1967) to #201 (May 1968); Batman stories from Detective Comics #359 (January 1967) to #358 (May 1968)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Mike Friedrich, Carmine Infantino, Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff, Gil Kane, Chic Stone, and others

Key First Appearances: Barbara Gordon/Batgirl

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 2

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 4 and Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1

Overview: “Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed.” Strap in, old chum, as we travel the 14 miles into Gotham City. Wait, that’s the wrong Batman series from the 1960s. I was referencing the Batman TV series. Surely the TV series had no impact on the comic books, right? Wrong! Sit back and enjoy the ride with the third volume in the Showcase Presents Batman series. There’s not a moment to lose!

Now, according to lore, the TV series producers went to DC Comics looking for help. The show needed a new female character to help attract female viewership. Based on a suggestion by William Dozier, DC artist Carmine Infantino whipped up a design for Batgirl, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon, Gotham City librarian, and daughter of Police Commissioner Gordon. Making her debut in Detective Comics #359, Batgirl quickly became a fan favorite and a core member of the Batman Family.

Reflecting the success of the TV show, the comics in this volume started featuring many of the colorful characters to challenge the Dynamic Duo. Lots of Penguin and Joker and Catwoman stories here! And even though they never made it to TV, Blockbuster and Scarecrow get some page time in this collection.

While we start to see some signs of an over-arching storyline starting to develop under the guidance of editor Julie Schwartz, these stories remain primarily one-and-done and could be read in any order once you read Batgirl’s first appearance at the start of this collection.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is the volume everyone wants when you think of Batman in the mid-1960s. You get the million dollar debut of Batgirl. You get the second appearance (and the first in Showcase Presents) of Mr. Freeze. Batman’s rogues’ gallery of colorful characters (pun intended) is all here: Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Mad Hatter, Blockbuster, Scarecrow, Killer Moth, and more. As a fan, I would be hard-pressed to find something missing from the Batman mythology that is not contained somewhere in this volume. This may be volume three in the series, but I would rank this #1 on my must-own list.

Footnotes: The stories from Detective Comics #359, #363, #369, & #371, and Batman #197 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.

The Robin story from Batman #192 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: Batman ’66. This series is based completely on the 1960s Batman television show. The characters in this comic bear a passing resemblance to the characters from the show – such as Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Cesar Romero as the Joker. Others may look slightly askew, such as Commissioner Gordon or Chief O’Hara. The writers and artists vary from story to story. This series is available first as a digital comic, and then two stories are collected later as a print comic. The print comics have been collected into multiple trades and hardcovers, so this should be very easy to find in any format. If you are a fan of the TV show, which was finally released on DVD in 2014, or if you are a fan of the Batman stories collected in this Showcase Presents, then Batman ’66 should be on your pull list.

Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 3

Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 3

First Published: May 2008

Contents: Green Lantern #39 (September 1965) to #59 (March 1968)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Gil Kane, Sid Greene, Gardner Fox, Murphy Anderson, and others

Key First Appearances: Krona, Major Disaster, Princess Ramia, Zborra, Charlie Vicker, Guy Gardner

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 2

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 4

Overview: In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light! With that, let’s dive into Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 3.

Green Lantern is an interesting title of the era, as any type of story seems reasonable with this character. From traveling to the future or to parallel universes; or roaming the vast reaches of space to battling criminals in Coast City — it all works with the Hal Jordan character. In many ways, Green Lantern is the definitive science-fiction character of the 1960s.

Having worked with him in the Justice League-Justice Society meetings, Green Lantern has a series of solo team-ups with Green Lantern of Earth-2 in this collection. Alan Scout’s ring is powered by magic, and is vulnerable to anything made of wood, which is in complete contrast to Hal Jordan’s will-powered ring that is vulnerable to anything yellow. Let’s just hope that these two do not have to face crooks armed with yellow baseball bats.

Gil Kane’s art is the true star of the show in this volume. Although Kane’s career spans 50+ years, it is his work on Green Lantern that remains among the most-memorable of his career. This volume is an excellent example of his artistic brilliance.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: To date, each volume in this line is better than the previous. At this point, the creators (John, Gil, and Gardner) have fully established the character and his world. Now, we see Green Lantern’s universe expand, with team-ups with the Flash and Zatanna, and with the introductions of Alan Scott and Guy Gardner. (John Stewart fans, be patient – his time is coming!) As with the prior volumes, Green Lantern remains one of the titles most-impacted by the lack of color in the Showcase Presents line. Thankfully, the Silver Age comics were very diligent in explaining the Green Lantern ring’s weakness to anything yellow each and every time it occurs. Anyway, I think this would be a good spot to pick up Green Lantern if you haven’t so far. In particular, this should be a must own volume for Gil Kane fans!

Footnotes: After making appearances in The Flash and in Justice League of America, the Earth-2 Green Lantern, Alan Scott, finally makes an appearance in Green Lantern #40. Alan Scott, along with his pal Doiby Dickles, would make frequent appearances in Green Lantern going forward.

If you like this volume, try: the Green Lantern: Sector 2814 series of trade paperbacks from the last few years. These books collect the Green Lantern title from the 1980s – before, during, and following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Hal Jordan finds that he needs to walk away from his role as defender of Sector 2814. But two men – John Stewart and Guy Gardner – step forward to take on the mantle as Green Lantern of Earth. Three volumes have been released so far, collecting the work from Len Wein, Dave Gibbons, Steve Englehart, Paul Kupperberg, Joe Staton, and others. These books are an easy way to explore some great Green Lantern Corps stories that often get overlooked.

Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1

First Published: January 2008

Contents: Robin stories from Batman #184 (September 1966), #192 (June 1967), #202 (June 1968), #213 (July-August 1969), #217 (December 1969), #227 (December 1970), #229 (February 1971) to #231 (May 1971), #234 (August 1971) to #236 (November 1971), #239 (February 1972) to #242 (June 1972), #244 (September 1972) to #246 (December 1972), #248 (April 1973) to #250 (July 1973), #252 (October 1973), and #254 (January-February 1974); World’s Finest Comics #141 (May 1964) #147 (February 1965), #195 (August 1970), and #200 (February 1971); Robin stories from 
Detective Comics #342 (August 1965), #386 (April 1969), #390 (August 1969), #391 (September 1969), #394 (December 1969), #395 (January 1970), #398 (April 1970) to #403 (September 1970), #445 (February-March 1975), #447 (May 1975), #450 (August 1975) and #451 (September 1975); Robin stories from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #91 (March 1966), #111 (June 1968), and #130 (July 1970); and 
Justice League of America #91 (August 1971) and #92 (September 1971)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Frank Robbins, Gil Kane, Mike Friedrich, Irv Novick, Dick Dillin, Elliot S. Maggin, Bob Rozakis, and others

Key First Appearances: Frank McDonald, Lori Elton

Overview: For being a teenage sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder is looking pretty good for 74 years old. Sit back and enjoy the solo tales of the most recognizable sidekick of all time.

The early stories have the sweet innocence of the 1960s. We get a retelling of Robin’s origin: A young Dick Grayson is the youngest member of the Flying Graysons, the star attraction of Haley’s Circus. When the circus refuses to pay off mobsters, the Graysons suffer a fatal accident, leaving Dick Grayson as a mourning orphan. Attending the circus that night is millionaire Bruce Wayne, who knows first hand the pain that Grayson is feeling. He brings the young lad into his home as a ward and makes him a partner in his war on crime as Robin.

As we enter the 1970s, Dick Grayson finally completes high school and is ready to head to college. Once he leaves Wayne Manor to attend college at Hudson University, Robin starts to shine as an independent character. He finds a steady girlfriend in Lori Elton and gets to know the Hudson Security Chief Frank McDonald both in and out of the Robin outfit. Robin’s maturation becomes a decade-long process, but we finally get to see Robin completely break free of Batman’s shadow much later in the pages of New Teen Titans.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: As one of DC’s oldest characters, Robin definitely needs to have his solo stories collected like this. The stories collected here generally fall into two categories – either a filler story to complete an issue of Batman or Detective Comics, or a genuine attempt to tell a stand-alone story and advance the character of Dick Grayson. However, Dick Grayson’s story is not complete here. It’s been 7+ years since DC released this volume and Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1. My hope is that some day, DC will continue to collect Dick Grayson’s (and Barbara Gordon’s) adventures in a Showcase Presents Batman Family Vol. 1, which would ideally collect the original stories of Robin, Batgirl, Man-Bat and others from Batman Family #1 to #20.

Footnotes: The Robin story from Detective Comics #342  was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 1.

The Robin story from Batman #184 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 2.

The Robin story from Batman #192 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 3.

The Robin stories from Batman #202 and #213 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 4.

The Robin story from Batman #217 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5.

Detective Comics #400 & #401 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.

World’s Finest Comics #141 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2.

World’s Finest Comics #147 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 3.

World’s Finest Comics #195 and #200 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 4.

Justice League of America #91 and #92 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 5.

If you like this volume, try: The New Teen Titans: Judas Contract. This was one of the best Teen Titans stories ever and definitely was among the greatest stories done by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The main story here deals with the betrayal of the Titans by their newest member, Terra. Inserted into the team a year prior, we find out that she had been working as a mole for Deathstroke, the Terminator. Over the course of the story, we see Dick Grayson undergo his transformation into adulthood, which had it’s beginnings in this volume when Robin struck out on his own at Hudson University. By the end of the story, Dick Grayson has adopted a new identity (and costume) as Nightwing. This has been collected multiple times, as both a trade paperback and as part of The New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2. I can’t recommend this story enough – this is one of the essential stories for Dick Grayson, for the Teen Titans, and for DC Comics.

Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2

Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2

First Published: October 2007

Contents: Teen Titans #19 (January-February 1969) to #36 (November-December 1971); The Brave and the Bold #83 (April-May 1969) and #94 (February-March 1971); and World’s Finest Comics #205 (September 1971)

Key Creator Credits: Bob Haney, Nick Cardy, Neal Adams, George Tuska, Gil Kane, Robert Kanigher, Steve Skeates, and others

Key First Appearances: Lilith, Loren Jupiter, Mal Duncan, Gnarrk

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1

Overview: The Teen Titans return in their second Showcase Presents volume to continue their adventures as the heroes-in-training for the next generation.

This volume kicks off with issue #19, which featured a line-up change. Speedy officially joins the team as a regular member, after making some cameo appearances in the past. At the same time, Aqualad leaves the team to return to Atlantis. (Maybe it was too hard to write tales that provided Aqualad a chance to swim?) Aqualad still makes the occasional appearance, and short return stints from time to time.

In addition to Speedy, some new faces start hanging out with Teen Titans. The pre-cog Lilith joins the team, but never develops a formal costume to wear. That would later inspire the Titans to handle some future cases in their street clothes. Lilith had been working for Loren Jupiter, who would come onboard to help fund the Teen Titans. Mal Duncan proves his worth to the team, although he does not have any super powers. (Much later, Mal will go through a couple of costumed identities in the mid 1970s when the Teen Titans returns to the publishing schedule.) Finally, Hawk and Dove make a visit to the Teen Titans, but do not join up until the short-lived launch of Titans West.

These stories still remain for the most part as one-and-done, so you do have the option of skipping ahead to stories that may interest you more than others. Naturally, I’m going to encourage you to read it cover to cover, but you do what you want!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I believe that this is a better volume than Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1. The stories are not as corny, as they start dealing with real issues of the time, such as the Vietnam War. Adding Lilith and Mal Duncan provided a much-needed diversification to the white male dominated books of the time. There are issues that Robin does not appear and the stories do not suffer without the most visible Titan included. The art in this book is just spectacular, with highlights from Adams and Cardy. This is a very good book, so pick it up and give it a look.

Footnotes: The Brave and the Bold #83 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1.

The Brave and the Bold #94 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2.

This Showcase Presents volume ends with Teen Titans #36. The Teen Titans series came to an end in early 1973 with issue #43. The Titans were brought back in 1976 as part of the DC Explosion, continuing the numbering with issue #44. That run came to an end with issue #53, as part of the DC “Implosion” of the late 1970s.

If you like this volume, try: the 1980 New Teen Titans series from Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This is THE Teen Titans series to read! The new line-up was a mixtures of original Titans (Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Beast Boy/Changeling) and new characters (Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire). Wolfman took a more serious approach to the stories, introducing real threats well beyond the goofiness of “Mad Mod” from the 1960s. For example, Deathstroke the Terminator (the primary villain on CW’s Arrow show) was introduced in New Teen Titans #2 and became the primary threat for the Titans over the entire 15-year run by Wolfman with the team. The characters grew up, changed identities, married, had children, and experienced all of the trials and tribulations of normal people. This has been collected multiple times, from Archives to Omnibus. A new trade paperback of the initial issues is coming out later this fall if you have not read these yet. Personally, my favorite storyline from this run is The Judas Contract, which should be required reading for any Teen Titans fan.